Monday, December 27, 2004

Haveil Havalim Edition #2

Haveil Havalim Edition #2

Dov Bear here, here, here, and here.
and the Yehupitzer Rav here, here, here, here, and here have been debating how Jews should approach Christmas. My own view is closer to that of the Yehupitzer Rav.

Powerline celebrates 350 years of Jewish in America. And I don't think that the message of George Washington is irrelevant to the issue above.

Presence tells of a new blog of Orthodox luminaries, Cross Currents. I was surprised by some of the names on the masthead. In proper fashion he credits Hirhurim. ("One who repeats something in the name of the one who said brings redemption to the world." Babylonian Talmud, Hullin)
Interestingly Marvin Schick, one of the contributors to Cross-currents offers his own overview of the 350th anniversary of Jews in America at his personal blog and critiques Jonathan Sarna's treatment of American Jewish history.

Getting back to Jews and Christmas, egged on by Dov Bear I added my thoughts. Biur Chametz did too. (I've had enough of that subject!)

Biur Chametz also does some Vanities type work in which he points out how diverse the Orthodox Jewish blogosphere is. It includes an atheist, an adultress and actress. It also includes a a religious Zionist American politically-conservative software engineer. That would be me. :-) And Dov Bear does something similar called a "link dump."

Another one I would include is a single, thirty something, female American-Israeli journalist who just got a piece published in the Washington Times.

Kesher Talk has a roundup of links - not necessarily blogs - on the subject of American antisemitism especially the sort that originates on campuses. Here's an example of how to fight campus antisemitism.

Israel's in the news. Well sort of. Crossing the Rubicon2 tells us that dioxin disfigured Viktor Yushchenko will be going to Israel for plastic surgery. And the Kosher Eucharist notes that Israel is playing a positive role in the genocide in Darfur.

Mere Rhetoric objects to Jewish residents of Gaza protesting using orange badges. I agree it's over the top. Even such a staunch opponent of disengagement, Effie Eitam objected. Read what he said at Arutz-7. Mere Rhetoric also performs a useful intellectual exercise to imagine what the world's reaction would be if Israel decided to expel Arabs into a nascent Palestinian state.

What's the difference between the PA and Israel? I think that this image speaks volumes.

Kihasa on the Potomac noted a couple of stories about ghoulish endeavors of the West vs. the Arab world. The stories aren't true, but they fit a long running tradition of propaganda.

Meryl Yourish draws a straight line from Arafat to the Iraqi belligerents who sent a suicide bomber into an Army mess tent in Mosul last week. She also mistrusts Mahmoud Abbas. She didn't mention his Holocaust denying PhD though, though

The situation in Israel has so upset Willow Tree that she prefers not to discuss it.

That's it for the second edition of Haveil Havalim or Vanity of Vanities (despite Biur Chametz's objection!)

Applications are now being accepted for Haveil Havalim Edition #3 - that is offers to host the roundup as well as nominations for the best Israel or Jewish related blog entry for the week of December 26 - January 1. (Yes, we'll allow a little wriggle room if it's a bit older.)

To let me know, put a reference to Haveil Havalim or Vanity of Vanities in your subject line and send it dhgerstman at hotmail dot com. Praises, criticisms and encouragement are welcomed too. (Well at least 2/3 of those are welcomed.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Suing Terror Sponsors
Instapundit writes (tongue in cheek, I think):
Sending trial lawyers after terrorists seems a bit unsporting, though.

Well maybe it's unsporting and I'm not sure the degree that it helps. (Though there have been several legal victories against terror sponsors, collecting is a different matter.) I wasn't going to register for the article Instapundit cited, but it's about the efforts of Stanley and Janet Boim to sue organizations that funded Hamas, the terror organization responsible for killing their son, David.
David Strachman representing the estate of Yaron Ungar used that anti-Terrorism act of 1991 to sue the PA for Mr. Ungar's death. (Yaron Ungar was an American citizen and covered by the ATA, his wife Efrat was not an American citizen, so Strachman could not sue on her behalf. In July, a magistrate in the District Court of Rhode Island upheld the award of over $116 million against the PA. For more on the case read this.
Tobacco lawyer Ronald Motley has teamed with Allan Gerson who brought a suit against Libya for Pan Am Flight 103 to sue Saudi Arabia - including members of the Royal Family - for enabling 9/11. Gerson was successful in winning a judgment of $2.7 billion from Libya for its responsibility in causing the destruction of Flight 103.
Winning these judgments may not be all that hard; collecting them is very difficult. And the government isn't always supportive of these efforts. The government has not been helping Motley and Gerson.
The government has also hampered the efforts of Steven Flatow to collect on a $247 million judgment he won against Iran for supporting Islamic Jihad, which was responsible for the bombing that killed his daughter Alisa.
These lawyers feel that hitting those who fund terror in their pocketbooks will reduce their ability to foster terror. But in order to do that, there's the need to be able to collect.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Does Whatever a Spider Can

Does Whatever a Spider Can

A joint Israeli German team were able to replicate spider webs outside the bodies of spiders:

Created out of genes from the bodies of the spiders themselves, the webs are much stronger than silk and could be used in the manufacture of bullet-proof vests, surgical threat and fishing rods, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

I just saw about 2/3 of the first Spiderman movie so this is cool to read about. Although the original comic book had Peter Parker (Spiderman's alter ego) develop webbing from chemicals, the movie has it that Peter develops the ability to shoot webs biologically due to his altered genes.
Hmm. Do you think the moviemakers knew something?
How did the scientists synthesize spider webbing?

Natural webs contain silks from certain proteins and in order to duplicate such properties the scientists used genes from the garden spider which contain a protein known as dragline silk.
And what are its benefits?
Characterised by its strength and elasticity, dragline silk is six times stronger than nylon and steel fibre of the same diameter, the paper said.
"From a practical viewpoint, mass production of fibres whose diameter is one-thousandth of a millimetre is likely to be useful in the future for the manufacture of bulletproof vests, surgical thread, micro-conductors, optical fibres and fishing rods," said Israeli developmental biologist Uri Gat.
"Even new types of clothing may be envisioned."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Fw: Checkpoint Propaganda

Checkpoint Propaganda

Molly Moore of the Washington Post recently reported "Checkpoints Take Toll on Palestinians, Israeli Army." In the article, Moore validates every Palestinian charge about Israeli checkpoints without providing adequate context.

One problem with the article is the use of loaded words and phrases: "segregated," "through concrete lanes resembling cattle chutes," and "dehumanizing."

In Israel's defense Moore only writes: "The Israeli military says the checkpoints are necessary to protect Israel and Jewish settlements in the territories from Palestinian attackers."

But it isn't just the military's claim that justifies, there is concrete evidence of that. Take for example the cases of Mamoya Tahio and Menashe Komemi who were manning a checkpoint near French Hill in September. Tahio saw a young woman who looked suspicious and tried to search her bag. Her bag, indeed, contained a bomb and she detonated it killing the two young soldiers and injuring 17 others. Had Tahio and Komemi not been at the checkpoint there would have been many more dead.

In January four soldiers, Andrei Kegeles, Tzur Or, Gal Shapira and Vladimir Trostinsky were killed when they attempted to accommodate a young woman who said that she had a metal plate in her leg. She too was carrying a bomb and detonated it, killing the men.

Moore even noted a similar circumstance from last year: "A year ago, two Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint south of Jerusalem were shot dead by a Palestinian who carried an automatic rifle rolled in a prayer rug." The implication of that incident is that even the most innocuous of people may be carrying something deadly. That implication is why, unfortunately, Israel needs the checkpoints. But Moore wasn't looking for justifications, she was looking for condemnations.

She reports uncritically, "At least 83 Palestinians seeking medical care have died during delays at checkpoints, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group." Often Israel disputes these claims, but Moore provides no counterclaim.

Nor did Moore show that, for example, Palestinian have used civilian vehicles to hide bombs. Myths and Facts tells us: "For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber. Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun (Ha'aretz, November 28, 2002)."

Knowing that provides a context for what Moore reports:"On one recent morning, soldiers demanded that a man squirt shaving cream from an aerosol can to verify its contents. They ordered another man to rip the red-and-silver wrapping paper off a box to reveal what was inside: a doll for his granddaughter." Even the most innocuous package may be deadly. Nor is this sort of request unusual. It is not uncommon in the United States to be asked to turn on a cell phone at security to ascertain that it is not an explosive device.

In her attempt to show the humiliation of the Palestinians, Moore ignores the context that forces the checkpoints to exist. Israel did not create checkpoints to humiliate Palestinians but in reaction to and increase in terror attacks. The toll to which Moore referred could have reasonably been attributed to the terror war against Israel that exploits the seemingly innocent in the service of mayhem. By failing to provide the necessary context, Moore's expose reads more like propaganda than a news story.
UPDATE: Media Backspin notes additionally that the Harawa checkpoint where Moore based her story was the one where a 14 year old was discovered with a bomb belt. That should have been mentioned too.
UPDATE: HonestReporting has issued a fullblown communique on the article, "Molly Moore's Narrow Turnstile". HR backs up my (unsubstantiated) claim that PHRMG was not a credible source. The communique also carries the news that according to an IDF investigation the Palestinian who played his violin apparently did it of his volition; he was not asked to do so by soldiers. (Best of the Web Today reports that the violinist claims that he was told to play by the soldiers.) Will the Washington Post report the findings of the IDF investigation even to cast a pall of doubt over them? According to the IDF Mahsom Watch backs the soldiers' version of events.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Posted by David Gerstman at December 1, 2004 06:05 AM

Barghouti to Challenge Abbas; Sharon too late to Challenge Jennings

Barghouti to Challenge Abbas; Sharon too late to Challenge Jennings

The New York Times is reporting that "Imprisoned Palestinian Enters Presidential Race," or, more accurately, convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti has changed his mind and decided to challenge Mahmoud Abbas to become president of the PA.


"After receiving hundreds of letters of support from cadres and ordinary people, he authorized me to register him," said Mrs. Barghouti, who spoke at 9 p.m. outside the Central Elections Commission in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "Marwan is running in solidarity with the uprising and out of loyalty to President Arafat."

Touching? No?
In other electoral news from the Middle East, PM Ariel Sharon of Israel will be on a game show. MSNBC reports: "Israeli leader in jeopardy". However, the Israeli Prime Minister will not be facing Ken Jennings who finally lost this week (actually in early September) after setting a record for winning 74 consecutive contests.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Posted by David Gerstman at December 1, 2004 09:20 PM